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Book of Job

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Book of Job
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The Book of Job ( /ˈdʒoʊb/; Hebrew: אִיוֹב‎ ʾ iyobh), commonly referred to simply as Job, is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of Job, his trials at the hands of Satan, his discussions with friends on the origins and nature of his suffering, his challenge to God, and finally a response from God. The book is a didactic poem set in a prose frame. The over-riding and oft-asked question asked in the book of Job is, "Why do the righteous suffer?"[1]

Scroll of the Book of Job in Hebrew.
The book of Job has been included in lists of the greatest books in world literature.[2] Contents [hide] * 1 Contents * 1.1 Summary * 1.2 Structure * 1.2.1 Speech cycles * 1.3 Speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar * 1.4 Speeches of Job * 1.5 Speech of Elihu * 1.6 God's response * 2 Satan * 3 Job's wife * 4 Composition * 4.1 Origin and textual history * 4.2 The "Job Motif" in earlier literature * 4.3 Later interpolations and additions * 4.4 Talmudic tradition * 5 Dissenting/Speculative Wisdom * 6 In Judaism * 7 In Christianity * 7.1 Messianic anticipation in the book * 7.2 Liturgical use * 8 Middle Eastern folk traditions on Job * 9 References to Ayyub (Job) in the Qur'an * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Bibliography * 12.1 Commentaries on Job * 12.2 General * 13 Further reading * 14 External links |
The book of Job tells the story of an extremely righteous man named Job, who is very prosperous and has seven sons and three daughters. Constantly fearing that his sons may have sinned and "cursed God in their hearts", he habitually offers burnt offerings as a pardon for their sins.[3] The "sons of God" and Satan (literally "the Adversary") present themselves to God, and God asks Satan his opinion on Job. Satan answers that Job is pious only because God has put a "wall around" him and "blessed" his favourite servant with prosperity, but if God were to stretch out his hand and strike everything that Job had, then he would surely curse God. God gives Satan permission to test Job's righteousness.[4]
All Job's possessions are destroyed: 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys carried off by Sabeans; 7,000 sheep burned up by 'The fire of God which fell from the sky'; 3,000 camels stolen by the Chaldeans; and the house of the firstborn destroyed by a mighty wind, killing Job's ten children. Still Job does not curse God, but instead shaves his head, tears his clothes, and says, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return: Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of Lord."[5]
As Job endures these calamities without reproaching God, Satan solicits permission to afflict his person as well, and God says, "Behold, he is in your hand, but don't touch his life." Satan, therefore, smites him with dreadful boils, and Job, seated in ashes, scrapes his skin with broken pottery. His wife prompts him to "curse God, and die," but Job answers, "You speak as one of the foolish speaks. Moreover, shall we receive good from God and shall not receive evil?"

Job and his tormentors, one of William Blake's illustrations of Job. Three friends of Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, come to console him. (A fourth, Elihu the Buzite (Heb: Alieua ben Barakal the Buzite), begins talking in Chapter 32 and plays a significant role in the dialogue, but his arrival is not described.) The friends spend seven days sitting on the ground with Job, without saying anything to him because they see that he is suffering and in much pain. Job at last breaks his silence and "curses the day he was born."
God responds saying that there are so many things Job does not know about how this world was formed or how nature works, that Job should consider God as being greater than the thunderstorm and strong enough to pull in the leviathan with a fish-hook. God then rebukes the three friends and says, "I am angry with you... you have not spoken of me what is right."
The story ends with Job restored to health, with a new family and twice as much livestock.
The book of Job has a fairly simple structure. Job 1 and 2 are the prologue, written in prose. Job 3:1-42:6 is poetry that consists of a cycle of speeches between Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and later Elihu, and then the dialogue between Yahweh and Job. Job 42:7-14 is the epilogue, which is written in prose.[6]
[edit]Speech cycles
The dialogues of chapters 3-31 are, in general, a cycle of speeches between Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that are structured as follows:
Cycle 1
Job Chapters 3
Eliphaz 4-5
Job 6-7
Bildad 8
Job 9-10
Zophar 11
Cycle 2
Job Chapters 12-14
Eliphaz 15
Job 16-17
Bildad 18
Job 19
Zophar 20
Cycle 3
Job Chapters 21
Eliphaz 22
Job 23-24
Bildad 25:1-5
Job 26; 27-28; 29-31[7]
The third cycle, it should be noted, does not follow the pattern of the first two cycles. Zophar does not give a speech and Bildad's speech is significantly shorter than his previous speeches.[6]
[edit]Speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar
Job's friends do not waver from their belief that Job must have sinned to incite God's punishment. As the speeches progress, Job's friends increasingly berate him for refusing to confess his sins, although they themselves are at a loss as to which sin he has committed. They also assume, in their view of theology, that God always rewards good and punishes evil, with no apparent exceptions allowed. There seems to be no room in their understanding of God for divine discretion and mystery in allowing and arranging suffering for purposes other than retribution.
[edit]Speeches of Job
Job, confident of his own innocence, maintains that his suffering is unjustified as he has not sinned, and that there is no reason for God to punish him thus. However, he does not curse God's name or accuse God of injustice but rather seeks an explanation or an account of his wrongdoing.
[edit]Speech of Elihu
Elihu takes a mediator's path—he attempts to maintain the sovereignty and righteousness and gracious mercy of God. Elihu's speech comes after the final words of Job in the third speech cycle (31:40) and goes from chapters 32-37.[6] Elihu strongly condemns the approach taken by the three friends, and argues that Job is misrepresenting God's righteousness and discrediting his loving character. Elihu says he spoke last because he is much younger than the other three friends, but says that age makes no difference when it comes to insights and wisdom. In his speech, Elihu argues for God's power, redemptive salvation, and absolute rightness in all his conduct. God is mighty, yet just, and quick to warn and to forgive. Elihu's speeches act as a narrative bridge which joins Job's summary of his case with the appearance of God.[8] His speech maintains that Job, while righteous, is not perfect. Job does not disagree with this and God does not rebuke Elihu as he does Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz.[9] After Elihu's speech ends with the last verse of Chapter 37, God appears and in the second verse of Chapter 38, God says, speaking of Job: “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"
[edit]God's response
After several rounds of debate between Job and his friends, in a divine voice, described as coming from a "cloud" or "whirlwind", God describes, in evocative and lyrical language, what the experience of being the creator of the world is like, and rhetorically asks if Job has ever had the experiences or the authority that God has had. God's answer underscores that Job shares the world with numerous powerful and remarkable creatures. (Also compare Job 41:18-21 with Job 15:12-13 which was possibly in response to Job 7:11-16).
God's speech also emphasizes his sovereignty in creating and maintaining the world. The thrust is not merely that God has experiences that Job does not, but that God is king over the world and is not necessarily subject to questions from his creatures, including men. The point of these speeches is to proclaim the absolute freedom of God over His creation. God is not in need of the approval of his creation. It is only the reader of the book who learns of God's conversations with Satan; Job himself remains unaware of the reason or source of his sufferings. The traditional interpretation is that, humbled by God's chastising, Job turns speechless, giving up and repenting his previous requests of justice. However, another interpretation is that Job's silence is defiant, and that what he gives up is not his belief that justice be done, but his confidence that God will behave justly.[10]
In the epilogue, God condemns Job's friends for their ignorance and lack of understanding while commending Job for his righteous words, commands them to prepare burnt offerings and reassures them that Job will pray for their forgiveness. Job is restored to health, gaining double the riches he possessed before and having new children, 7 sons and 3 daughters (his wife did not die in this ordeal). His new daughters (Jemima, Keziah and Keren-Happuch[11]) were the most beautiful in the land, and were given inheritance along with their brothers. Job is blessed once again and lives on another 140 years after the ordeal, living to see his children to the fourth generation and dying peacefully of old age.
"The Satan", meaning literally "the adversary", appears in the prose prologue of Job, where he is not the devil, as he becomes in later Christian works, but one of the celestial beings who stand before God in the heavenly court.[12] As a member of a Divine Council "the adversary" observes human activity with the purpose of searching out men's sins and acting as their accuser. "The adversary" occurs in the framing story alone—he is never clearly alluded to in the central poem. However, Abaddon and Sheol are mentioned throughout the central poem. Job does speak of an adversary on several occasions within the central poem, but it is doubtful that he is referring to "the Adversary" of the prose prologue.[citation needed]
[edit]Job's wife

Georges de La Tour,
Job Mocked by his Wife.
Job's wife is introduced in Job 2:9 when she suggests that Job curse God and die. She is not directly mentioned at any other place in the book. Throughout the ordeal, she survives and lives on with Job. There is uncertainty about her intentions when she tells Job to curse God but it is clear that Job honors her by the way he talks about her in Chapter 31. As he says in verse one, "I have made a covenant with my eyes. Why should I think on another woman?" He has remained true to his marriage vows, even in his heart, and has not lusted after someone else.
The later tradition preserved in the Greek Testament of Job (chap. 21-25; 39) names Job's first wife (cf. Job 2:9) as Sitidos (Sitis) and his later wife (expanded from Job 42:13 in T.Job 1:6) as Dinah.

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